How’s everybody doin’ out there?

Dumb question, I know. But we here at the Indie Film desk genuinely care about how the movie fans of Maine are weathering a locked-down, shut-in world where your DVD collection has proven laughably meager, and even the seemingly unending stream of streaming has run dry. (This is addressed to those actually practicing social distancing. Those flaunting the bare minimum care you can exhibit toward your fellow humans, well, enjoy the choices you’ve made.) 

Still, we’re all about solutions here at Indie Film. And movies. Movies and solutions. Movie solutions, if you will. Way back at the start of this whole national health and entertainment nightmare I offered up some alternatives to the big few streaming conglomerates for those movie lovers whose love has proven increasingly unrequited by the same tired movie selections on Netflix and the like. But since that was (or seems like) approximately 50 years ago now, here are some more, even deeper cuts when it comes to finding some new, weird, obscure, and altogether necessary movies to help you get through.

Hoopla

I recommended public library-connected streaming service Kanopy the first time out, and the similar Hoopla is another place where your local library card gets you access to thousands upon thousands of movies and TV series (and, OK, books), completely free. As with Kanopy, the catch is that your local library has to be a part of the service, which your branch may not be. (There’s a handy form where you can suggest your library get on the ball.) Still, free movies are never a bad thing, and Kanopy and Hoopla aren’t on everybody’s streaming radar. 

Best reason to subscribe: I mentioned the free part, right?

Tubi

A recent Onion article was titled “New Streaming Service Struggling To Come Up With Name Stupid Enough That Public Becomes Furious When They Hear It,” which leads us from Hoopla to Tubi. Still, as far as free streaming services go in this time of barrel-scraping, wallet-draining entertainment options, free movies remain a lifeline. And Tubi (god, I want to punch that name) does offer some 5,000 or so movies (many of which you’ll actually have heard of) for only the price of sitting through some ads during the films. 

Best reason to subscribe: Again, free is hard to argue with, although the commercials are a bummer. Plus, the movies on offer do change pretty regularly, as Tubi rotates its larger catalog for freshness. 

Screambox

Now there’s a name. If all you horror fans out there have exhausted previous all-scary streaming recommendation Shudder (still a great pick), Screambox is for you. Think of it like Shudder, except you have heard of approximately none of the movies or people involved. Specializing in low-budget and indie horror, Screambox is just the place to go when you’ve had enough of Hollywood trotting out some watery, teen-peopled PG-13 thriller and calling it a horror movie. 

Cost: $4.99/month or $35.88/year, and there’s a free, seven-day trial subscription. 

Best reasons to subscribe: Just glancing at titles on offer like “Plankface,” “Monster X,” “Dimension Z” and “Insectula!” gets my popcorn machine running. 

Brown Sugar

We’re all feeling a little funky these days, but not necessarily the right kind of funky. This Blaxploitation-centric streaming hub is the place to go to experience the go-for-broke, boundary-breaking, eminently watchable, slightly disreputable world of 1970s (and more), Black-led exploitation cinema. If you liked Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” and want to see the myriad movies the young Tarantino was inspired by/ripping off, or enjoyed Eddie Murphy recreating the genre’s grubbiest corners in “Dolemite Is My Name,” Brown Sugar’s got you covered. 

Cost: A righteous $3.99/month or $42/year, with a seven-day trial subscription.

Best reasons to subscribe: Pam Grier. Antonio Fargas. Rudy Ray Moore. Ron O’Neal. Carol Speed. Max Julien. Tamara Dobson. Thalmus Rasulala, for crying out loud. 

Mubi

Again, with the names. Still, this boutique streaming service is about as close as any of us are going to get to a lovingly curated arthouse cinema any time soon. Featuring just 30 movies at any one time, each film is handpicked by the site’s creators from a select pool of international, independent and repertory classics. A new movie goes up every day, and stays on the site for 30 days, when it’s bumped for a new pick. If you miss the good old days of your local video store geek at Videoport picking just the perfect artsy movie for you, then Mubi’s worth a look. Treat yourself to the best of the best, and let someone else do the hard work.

Cost: $10.99/month or $95.88/year. There’s a seven-day free trial. 

Best reason to subscribe: Look, we can sit around and rewatch “The Princess Bride” for the 20th time this year, but there’s a whole world of movies out there. Having a small, curated home art theater of your own is a refreshingly original, surprising and challenging way to remember that. Hang in there, everybody. There’s always a new movie. 

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.


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